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Malheur Wildlife Refuge

Western Grebes at Malheur

Monday I arrived at Malheur after eight long hours of driving to sunshine and more water than I’ve ever seen before. The water was full of birds — ducks, coots, egrets, pelicans, and most of all Western Grebes. More grebes than I’ve ever seen in one place.

I only had an hour to shoot before I had to set up camp for the night, but in that hour I got some of the best shots of Western Grebes I’ve ever gotten before because I’d never gotten this close before, so close that I didn’t even bother to set up my 500mm lens and tripod, thinking I’d save that for the next day.

I loved the reflections in this shot,

 Western Grebe

as they reminded me of Northwest Indian artwork.

At first I was puzzled by the strange gray and white birds that were everywhere, thinking they might be an unknown gull, but it once I’d actually seen them with an adult

Western Grebe with older chicks

I realized that they were older chicks, another first for me.

It didn’t take long to realize the surrounding waters were full of Western Grebes with chicks in various stages of growth, from nearly independent to recently hatched. Once I made this discovery, I spent the rest of my time observing various parenting skills, and got a number of shots I’ll post tomorrow.